New ACT writing test offers better assessment

Laurel Chen, Reporter

As we are almost halfway through the school year, a great deal of juniors are scrambling to do anything to raise their ACT scores to something desired before taking the test in 2016, whether it be attending that last prep course, or taking a plethora of practice tests. However, if students have not already noticed, the ACT has recently implemented a couple new features to the writing portion, most of which, in the long run, are extremely beneficial to the student and their future.

Why is it changing? One of the primary reasons for the change is because of the large number of colleges complaining that high school students’ writing is not complex or academic enough. In the past, the ACT writing prompt only asked the student to take a side on a topic, with 30 minutes to formulate ideas and compose. This year, questions will ask students to write from multiple perspectives, with 40 minutes to plan and produce a masterpiece. After all, the ACT is not only a college entrance exam, but also a state-mandated graduation benchmark.

Although the enhanced ACT Writing Test has dramatically expanded both the difficulty and length of its writing prompts this fall, there is a bright side. The new test has a more open-ended assignment, so students have a better chance getting noticed for writing original essays.

In the old ACT, the holistic scale ranged from 2 to 12, and you had two jobs: take a position on the prompt, and defend it while addressing the other argument. No matter how creative you were in writing, you still would not be noticed for your insightful findings regarding monotonous opinions about things like school lunches or uniforms.

In the new version, however, students will still have to take a position and defend it, but also evaluate the opposing perspective and integrate the other perspectives given. Finally, students must discuss the relationship between the points of view. This is judged on a scale of 1 to 36, and does not affect your composite score. All of these traits inevitably help a student distinguish themselves from everyone else, which is another reason why this change is so important.

In the end, the changes to the ACT Writing Test are crucial to a student’s readiness for college. The redesigned prompts ask you to critically assess and evaluate the strengths of perspectives while formulating your own approach on the subject. The implications of all these changes are significant; it ensures that students will graduate with better analytical skills, encourages their individuality, and fully prepares them for success in their careers.